Noko Time Tracking


Finding Alternative

Streams of Income

Ever get the feeling that you're on a roller coaster? One day you're on top of the world, feasting with the Kings and Queens of the Freelancing Fiefdom. And the next, you're slowly descending the freelancing food-chain, as your workload thins. How then do you ever break the vicious feast and famine cycle? By diversifying your freelancing biz and finding alternative streams of income!

Wondering how on earth you're going to find all these new fish in the freelancing sea? We've said it once, and we'll say it again (mostly for dramatic effect!), by diversifying!

Diversify your clients. Since you can't grow your business without new clients, this is a great place to start. Expand your idea of who needs your expertise. Your target market may be wider than you think! Do you work for mostly small biz? Try a bigger client. Usually cater to Fortune 1000? Try some smaller fish. Or, if you find your clients are all in the same industry, try spreading out… especially if your main industry is seasonal, or prone to coordinated ups & downs.

Diversify your projects. The best way to create smooth freelance sailing is to manage your pipeline. You want to have new projects lined up before you finish your existing ones. Sounds tricky, right? But it's really as simple as Always Be Prospecting. It's human nature to wait until you've got free time to start marketing, or talking to new potential clients. But the best time to hunt for work is when you don't need it. Use Days 18, 19, 20, and 21 to level up your self-promotion skills.

Diversify your skills. As a freelancer, you never (ever!) want to stop learning. Expanding your skill-set can make you more desirable and effective. Example: If you're a designer, learn a bit of code in your area of expertise. If you're a developer, learn design principles. The designer-developer hybrid is wildly sought after (and rare! and expensive!). What's that you say… you're not a designer, or a developer, you're a writer? A photographer? An editor? a VA? The principles are the same! What complementary skills could you learn that would help you understand your client better, create better work, integrate better with your clients' team, give your clients better advice, even become a 1-stop shop? Your clients are busy folk, and they could always use the opinion and advice of someone they trust (you!) on something else they have to have done. You don't have to become a world-class expert in your new skills for them to become valuable. A book editor who can recommend promotion and sales tactics, a web designer who can pow-wow nicely with the web developer, a VA who can help set up useful software… these are killer combos.

Having alternative streams of income that complement your main client work, will fill the void you feel when a project is finished. Take these steps to develop a holistic approach to building alternative streams of income:

1 Do what's simplest. Creativity doesn't always count! You don't need to reinvent the wheel to find alternative streams of income for your freelancing biz. Chances are you've already got several ripe — and "obvious" — opportunities right in front of your nose.

2 Identify complimentary skills & networks. Look at the type of work you already do and the knowledge you've gained from years of experience. Look at the other types of work your clients also need. Look at what other industries you may have ties or connections to, or that your clients do. Think of skills that can easily be built into your existing products or services.

3 Improve 'em, them prove 'em. When you learn a new skill, master it by educating yourself. Then, prove to prospective and current clients you've got what it takes by finding ways to show off your new skills. Build up your portfolio, create dummy projects, or ask your existing clients if they'd like to be guinea pigs (for a small discount!).

4 Sell your new services to existing clients. After you've guinea pigged a few early adopters, be sure to milk your greatest opportunity — the clients you already have. You're already doing highly credible and professional work for them. They'll be much more likely to be interested in new services from someone they respect and trust than somebody new.

5 Expand your biz with new clients. Don't keep your new, awesome goodies to yourself. Take your new skills and expand into the related markets! Ask for referrals, both inside and outside of your usual industries. Ask your clients, and your freelancing colleagues in case they're overwhelmed with work.

Need a little nudge in the right direction? Here are a few suggestion to get the idea juices flowin'.

→ Improve your writing skills.
→ Improve your editing skills.
→ If you're a designer, pick up some code skills.
→ If you're a developer, brush up on design basics.
→ Learn about marketing & sales… if you specialize in an industry, specialize your marketing knowledge, too.
→ Become an advisor to someone.
→ Teach a class on a subject you're an expert in.
→ Alert your existing clients to new services you could provide.
→ Ask for referrals from your clients.
→ Ask for referrals from your colleagues.

The Bottom Line

Diversify, diversify, diversify! Then get out there and get started. You're already a burgeoning expert in your field, with clients to boot! Make a bunch of shiny new baskets for yourself, to house all those shiny new eggs you'll soon be making.

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